On a week of sadness and upheaval for bowling’s governing body, Michael Brennan’s departure from his position as chair Bol Chumann na hEireann was unexpected. His four-year term ended at last Wednesday’s Executive meeting when an email tendering his resignation was read to delegates. Michael cited differences with fellow officers on issues such the interpretation and application of certain rules as reasons for his going. In his four years at the helm, Michael has made significant contributions to the advancement of Bol Chumann. On taking over from Susan Greene in 2019, Michael was faced with dealing with the Covid epidemic which disrupted life on every level. He negotiated an early return for the sport with Sport Ireland and had the satisfaction of seeing membership hold-up in its aftermath and even increase in certain sectors. He put a tremendous amount of work into formulating the 5 year plan and also, along with other senior officers, in drafting the new Code of Governance. Michael was instrumental in introducing the inter-regional youths team events at Newcastle, Co. Dublin, the setting up of referees’ courses and in organising the return of the Secondary Schools event at Shannonvale. His good work for the Association was acknowledged by officers and delegates including, James O’Driscoll, Gretta Cormican, Eamonn McSweeney, Billy McAuliffe and others. Vice chair, Willie Murphy, with a lifetime’s involvement in the North Cork division, has stepped in as interim chair and will hold the position until February’s Annual Convention.
There was shock and disbelief among family, friends and within the road bowling fraternity at the news of the untimely passing of Teddy O’Driscoll, Drimoleague. Teddy was a beloved and hugely respected figure whose friendly demeanour endeared him to all. His loss is particularly heartbreaking for his wife, Geraldine, and young family. That his departure came just days after his eldest son, Brian, claimed the All-Ireland novice 1 championship in Killea, Co. Waterford, is particularly poignant. Teddy was by his side and ‘on the sop’ throughout a glorious winning run that brought him regional and county honours in spectacular style. Teddy and his family had a deep connection to bowling and their involvement contributed to a strong sense of camaraderie and identity within their community. Inheriting a great love of the game from their father, Tadg, it became the sporting passion of the O’Driscoll family. Denis, Sharon and Teddy achieved honours at the highest level. In his heyday, Teddy was a stylish performer whose easy unruffled manner belied a steely determination. Similar to Brian this year, Teddy built a reputation as a hard-beaten opponent who revelled in the close-quarter clashes that usually decide championship titles. He won the novice 1 county at Shannonvale in 1991 and subsequently made a successful transition to junior ranks winning another county when he captured the junior B crown after a great contest with James Cooney at Kildee. United in purpose, the O’Driscoll’s brought support in numbers to countless bowling roads around the county and beyond.
Teddy’s loss to bowling is immeasurable. His commitment and dedication in encouraging family members to play the game was infectious and brought many from outside his circle to enjoy the sport for the first time. The huge crowds who attended his funeral services bore testimony to his standing in the bowling world and within his local community. In a moving eulogy, his brother Denis described his strong family values, his great love for his mother Mary, for Geraldine and their four children. He spoke too of his delight at Brian’s All-Ireland victory on the Sunday prior to his departure. His coffin carried the Bol Chumann emblem and hundreds from the bowling community formed a guard of honour as he made his final journey to Drimoleague cemetery on Monday last. Bol Chumann extends its sympathies to Mary, Geraldine, Brian, Kieran, Shauna and Emma and to extended family members.
The news of Derry Warren’s passing will evoke memories of a great bowling man. From Castletownkenneigh originally, Derry played many scores in an active involvement and will be remembered mostly for his famous partnership with the great Mick Barry. They played many double scores together when both were in their prime. Bowling mourns too the passing of John Kissane, Bandon and John Lynch, Wood Road. Mick Kennedy of Mayo who went to his reward recently is in the record books as bowling’s first novice 2 winner. Mick achieved that feat defeating East Cork’s Eamonn Crowley at the first All-Ireland series for the grade which was held at Westport, Co. Mayo, in 1992.
On the road the main event of the weekend was the playing of the Joe O’Sullivan Acorn Life tournament over two days at Castletownbere. In a week when many scores were cancelled as a mark of respect to Teddy O’Driscoll, this competition which involved negotiation and organisation with Bol Chumann Uladh, went ahead at the expressed wish of the O’Driscoll family. For the second year running, Thomas Mackle reigned supreme on the Beara peninsula. The Armagh native won two big money shoot-outs from Martin Coppinger and Arthur McDonagh in sweltering heat on successive days and, in doing so, served notice that his form is close to his very best ahead of the 38th hosting of the King and Queen of the Roads festival in two weeks’ time. Sunday’s final between Mackle and McDonagh carried €66,500 total, typical of a weekend that was a punter’s paradise with stakes in the stratosphere for all scores. McDonagh was playing a catch-up game after a very short opener but catch-up he nearly did in a fiercely fought encounter that was only decided by the sheer will and determination of the northerner to stay in front through the final fraught exchanges. Mackle took advantage of that early lapse and took a big lead that transferred to a bowl of odds advantage when another blunder by McDonagh with his sixth again proved costly. Mackle’s ninth and tenth were not of his best and McDonagh closed the gap. With the odds well under the bowl now McDonagh chased the lead with a magnificent eleventh throw, but Mackle put the travails of his previous two behind him and followed in like manner. After the next exchange, the lead was back to five metres as Mackle defiantly beat another big one to stay ahead. McDonagh’s fifteenth was too tight on the left and Mackle increased his lead again for the last shots. The Fermoy man’s last did not trouble the All-Ireland champion and the Joe O’Sullivan Cup goes northwards for the second year running. Mackle won a testy semi-final from Martin Coppinger on Saturday. For a €23,380 total, Coppinger had early momentum winning all the opening five before a bad blunder with his sixth cost him the lead. The Bantry native would not lead again as Mackle, with a high degree of consistency, maintained a handy lead of close on a hundred metres through the second half of the score. The first of Saturday’s semi-finals was a humdinger. Arthur McDonagh and Aidan Murphy fought it to a standstill before the Fermoy man, from a long way back, snatched it in the final throw. Murphy made a great start and led at all points up to the eighth shot. McDonagh led only briefly then, and Murphy was back in front after ten. The eventual winner enjoyed the luck of the day when his twelfth recovered off a left side misplay and it kept him in contention when Murphy looked like sealing it. McDonagh’s fifteenth was an incredible effort around the last bend, but Murphy still held valuable odds facing the line. The Fermoy man’s persistence paid with a last shot that Murphy missed when his reply veered right. They played for a total of €52,000. They go again this coming Sunday in a Mick Barry Cup King of the Roads qualifier at Ballincurrig. Wayne Parkes put his Jim O’Driscoll Cup King of the Roads defeat to Timmie McDonagh of the previous evening behind him to defeat Donal O’Riordan in the opening score at Castletownbere on Friday. In a contest of mixed bowling, it was a last shot win for the Clon man for a €17,000 total. Also on Friday, a blistering start by Ger Connolly saw him defeat Shane Shannon, by three bowls for €22,500. Noel O’Donovan, Darren Harrington and Brian Horgan were other weekend winners at Castletownbere.
Vintage grade scores accounted for much of the action in the last week of evening bowling. Former senior standard-bearer, Mick O’Driscoll (B) advanced with the win from his joust with Leo Hegarty at Grenagh and will play Donie Connolly in round three at Templemichael. In a big vintage B group A clash at Jagoe’s Mills, David Walsh overcame Mick Murphy and will play Connie Connolly in the next round. In the same section at Grange on Tuesday, Carbery’s Liam O’Driscoll defeated South-West’s Mikie Harrington, last shot, for €800. This was a shot-for-shot duel that finished with O’Driscoll beating a big last tip to win it. He meets the winner of Connie Connolly/David Walsh in the next round. Two great warriors engaged at Lyre in a vintage section C group A second-round fixture. Brendan O’Sullivan, Barryroe, edged out Finbarr Fitzpatrick in this one and will play another Carbery contender, Liam Hurley in the next round. In the same section also at Lyre, Donal O’Sullivan defeated Joe Williamson. In section B at Clondrohid, previous outright winner, Micheal O’Céallachain, was in top form in a two-bowl win over fellow Gaeltacht campaigner, James O’Leary. In section C at Carrignavar Eddie Barry defeated Liam Buckley, last shot. At Bweeng in vintage C, Paddy Kinsella defeated Tony Dunlea, last shot, for €1,000. In other county action, Siobhan Kelleher, the Mid Cork junior ladies champion won her quarterfinal round contest with East’s Aisling O’Callaghan and will now play North Cork’s Rachel Lucey in the semi. At Ballinagree in the girls U12 semi, Lily Scannell of the Gaeltacht region won from Carrie O’Donovan, North East.
The King and Queen of the Roads festival is on the horizon and qualifying scores continue. The Jim O’Driscoll Cup is an important support tournament dedicated to Intermediate campaigners or those on the verge of that ranking and Tim McDonagh advanced with a fine display against Wayne Parkes at Ballincurrig on Thursday. The Fermoy man defeated his Clon rival by two bowls for a stake of €2,200. On Sunday morning Eamonn Bowen bowled well to defeat Andrew O’Callaghan for a €3,000 total. Bowen plays Wayne Callanan in the next qualifying score. Meanwhile in a Queen of the Roads qualifier at Grenagh Veronica O’Mahony defeated Denise Murphy.
There was an excellent turnout again for the ladies at the Road trials at Ballyvourney on Thursday last. Top three on the evening in the adult category were Veronica O’Mahony, Ciara Burkley and Hannah Sexton while the Sexton sisters Ellen and Laura closely followed by Darcy O’Brien and Sophie Murphy led a big field in U18 girls.
Regional action continues with novice E grade scores and some Ladies events providing most of the action. In Mid Cork Casteltownkenneigh are hosts for novice E and here local clubman, John O’Callaghan made it through to the last four with a win over Shane Collins. Dylan Murphy also advanced to the last four with a win over Finbarr Lucey. It’s a battle now between John and Gene O’Callaghan in the first of the last four scores. In the Gaeltacht division, the junior lady’s final went ahead at Clondrohid on Sunday morning and U18 regional winner Ailbhe O’Shea will carry the regions banner to the county rounds. Ailbhe edged away from Lauren O’Brien to win the title by two bowls. The inter-regional rounds promise some lively competition with All-Ireland U18 winner, Ellen Sexton, Mid Cork’s Siobhan Kelleher, North Cork’s Rachel Lucey, City’s Karen O’Callaghan as well as the Gaeltacht champion all potential winners. In the semis Ailbhe won from Rachel Desmond and Lauren O’Brien won from Adrianna Creedon. In the novice ladies in the Gaeltacht division Louise Desmond won from Carmel O’Sullivan and Karen Dromey won from Emily Murphy, both at Clondrohid. In novice E at Clondrohid, Sean Kelleher defeated Colin Murphy; Enda Lucey won from Jerry McSweeney, Odhran O’Leary defeated Fionan O’Leary and Cian Dineen won from Eanna O’Leary. At Terelton Kevin Kelleher defeated Donnacha Lynch. At Coolea Brian O’Riordan won from Dara Twomey and Jack O’Driscoll won from Finbarr Moynahin. At Inchigeelagh Sam Pickering won from Shane Hodman. In North Cork, novice E at Firmount John Buckley defeated Alan McMahony for €860 and Donnacha Spillane defeated Luke Dennehy, last shot, for €300. In a score at Ballinagree, Brendan Cotter defeated Jack Oldham, two bowls, for €2,000. Back here, Peter Burns won from Will Harrington, one bowl, for €800. Alan McMahon progressed further on Thursday last with a win over Con Fitzgerald. In a three-way novice E at Firmount on Friday, Aidan O’Brien won from Oisin Fogarty and Paddy Finnegan. Back here, Paul Walsh defeated Mikey O’Regan, last shot, for €440.
At Beal na Morrive in a tournament semi-final, Eamonn Murphy defeated Flor Crowley. In a return, Crowley defeated Tony O’Flynn, last shot, for €2,400.